The following is a draft from The Longest Night, my debut novel! Let me know what you think in the comments or on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MagicOfAStory
4 years ago
“Tasha, please don’t! I don’t want you to get mixed up with them too!”
Marching to her car Tasha ignored her mother, tears gathering in her eyes. She couldn’t let, no musn’t let her mother see her cry.
“I’ll be fine, I’m not as naive as Ciarán,” she took her car keys from her tracksuit pocket and opened the car door, stopping to look at her mother. She had followed her out the door and was waddling her way down the gravel path after her daughter. Tasha could see her breath puffing up into the night air, betraying how out of breath she was simply trying to follow her.
“I don’t care Tasha, now get back into the house.”
“No Mam, you get back into the house. You’ll freeze,” Tasha stayed still, watching her mother continue after her. “Mam! Get inside now! Seriously! It’s the middle of the fucking night!”
“Mam, these people are fucking dangerous. I don’t know what they’ve done to Ciarán and I don’t know how safe it is to even go after them. I hardly think a few fucking curses are a serious cause for concern right about now.”
“Do you really think that they’re dangerous? ”
“Everyone knows they’re the ones who tried to burn down the church last month.”
“I… I could come but… Maybe someone should stay here,” she pulled her cardigan closer about her neck, “Ciarán might already be coming back and someone should be here if he gets back and you’re gone.”
Tasha felt sorry for her mother. The woman was torn between a maternal instinct to protect her son, and her own self-preservation. The large woman bit her lower lip and looked over Tasha’s shoulder and then back into their home.
“Exactly Mam. You need to be here. He could be on the way home already. It’ll be fine.” Tasha paused for a second, trying to see how much her mam believed her own bullshit. She leaned forward and gave her mother a deep but fleeting hug, hoping it would convince the woman to stay put.
Stay out of the way, thought Tasha, stay safe.
She turned on her heel, no more words passing between mother and daughter, and drove out of the driveway into the darkness.
After a forty minute drive Tasha made it to O’Leary House. Her fingers drummed the steering wheel as she drove right up to the old manor home. There were two cars already here, none of them her brothers.
Maybe I’m right, she wondered, Maybe he did see sense and go home. Not wanting to leave it to chance, she decided to have a look around anyway. She turned her car so it was facing away from the house, and got out. The building was plain and grey, with dead ivy crawling up the corner of it and weeds sprouting out of the cracks in the walls. The trees all around it hadn’t been tended in years, and were reaching in towards the house. The bare December branches were skeletal fingers reaching in, closing in on her. A gentle breeze made the heavy branches creak and Tasha pulled her thin coat closer around herself.
The once red paint was peeling off the door, and the window to the left of the door were smashed in. The upstairs window on the right had a warm glow, probably candlelight. She tried to listen in to hear any words, but could only make out some low mumbling. It sounded repetitive. She stepped towards the house, not using her phone’s flashlight but the light of the full moon instead.
She pressed her hand against the intact window, but could see nothing but a bare wooden floor and a few broken pieces of furniture. Walking back to the door she was surprised to see it was actually ajar. Her heart throbbed against her tonsils, but Tasha ignored it and gently pushed the door open.
She waited for her eyes to accustom to the dark, listening out for the psychos her brother got in with. The hall formed itself from the darkness, showing her doors leading off to abandoned rooms and piles of broken furniture, while a damp looking wooden staircase rose up before her. A murmur of voices spilled down the steps and tempted her further upstairs.
“He…hello?” Tasha whispered, instantly regretting it. Who’d answer!? Why the fuck did I do that?!
The voices from above still murmured, and now Tasha realised that they were cyclical. Repetitive.
What type of weirdos would chant in a wreck of a house?
Gingerly, Tasha placed a foot on the bottom step, and gradually put her weight on it. She climbed the whole staircase in this way, slowly, safely, silently. Each groan of the stairs sped her heart up further, but all she knew was to find her older brother. Find him, the little shite, kick some sense into him, and drag him home. Then Tasha would get some peace from their worrying mother.
Then her family would be together.
As she climbed, the words of the chant started to reveal themselves. It seemed there were about three or four voices. Which made sense with the cars outside.
“…Old ones… Gate… The Five…”
“What kinda shite are they on about?”
Starting to worry, even though she wasn’t sure why, Tasha took her phone out of her pocket and began to take a video. The screen was pure black it was so dark, but hopefully the sound would be enough.
Now at the top of the stairs, she could see light seeping out from under a door near the front of the house. She edged towards it, still listening in, catching yet more words.
“The Symbols and the Five, The Old ones will survive.”
These fucking freaks…
She gently pushed the door and pressed her eye, and her camera lens, to the opening. Her hand flew to her mouth and barely stopped her from calling out in shock.
Candles lit the room. There were four figures standing in a circle, three men and a woman, from what she could see. They were wearing simple black trousers and white shirts, and all were holding their hands strangely. Each of them were holding their hands against their chest, the backs of the hands pressed against each other and fingers interlaced. It was like a strange prayer stance. In the centre of the circle, wearing nothing at all, knelt her brother.
He had a long kitchen knife laying across his palms, which were outstretched in front of him. All over his chest, arms and legs bled tiny cuts, shallow and twisted. His face was contorted and winced in pain.
Suddenly, the four standing around him moved clockwise, still chanting, and stopped after a quarter turn.
“The Gate, The Door, The new God no more.”
A tear slid down Tasha’s cheek, when she saw Ciarán’s lips move with them.
He was willing. He was a part of this.
Without much thought, Tasha shoved the door open.
“DON’T STOP CHANTING!” ordered the tallest of the four, a man.
“The Symbols and the Five, The Old ones will survive.”
Tasha tried to run to her brother’s side, but the man grabbed her. He was so much taller he simply shoved her backwards. She stumbled, but didn’t fall.
He made to grab her but Tasha side-stepped it.
“Ciarán! Ciarán what the fuck are you playing at!”
Her only brother never opened his eyes, but they shut harder.
“You need to leave,” said the man, “Brother Ciarán is one of us now. ” He made another attempt to grab her but Tasha used her small stature to her advantage, ducking under his grasping arms. She ran to her brother and knocked the knife from his hands. His eyes fluttered open and he shook his head, looking up at her. Now here beside him, Tasha could see he was gaunt and tired looking. The boy she grew up with wasn’t behind his listless and dull eyes.
“T…Tasha… Go home. This is where I’m meant to be.”
The chanting had stopped, but the wind grew louder.
“Ciarán, please, come home.”
Tasha pulled at her thin coat and began to take it off. Ciarán reached up with one bloody hand and stopped her.
“I’m sorry, but… but you’re not my sister anymore. I’m reborn anew.”
“He’s reborn anew,” echoed the one woman in the group.
“Shut up ya bitch!” spat Tasha, throwing her coat around her brother’s bloodied back, “Come on Ciarán, I’ll take you home.”
Just as Tasha tried to bring Ciarán to his feet, the tall man grabbed her from behind and pulled her away. The other two men and the woman helped him to push Tasha out of the room.
“No! NO! GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME YE FUCKING PRICKS!”
Tasha kicked and flailed and tried to punch, but they shoved her from the room. She clutched each edge of the doorway, trying to pull her way into the room again. Just over the tall man’s shoulder she could see Ciarán leaning to one side to see what was happening.
Then the tall man raised his leg and kicked Tasha right in the chest. She stumbled back, her arms spinning around and around trying to regain her balance. She scurried back to stop from falling but forgot how close the half-rotten bannister was.
Tasha crashed through the wooden railings at the top of the stairs,
“CIARÁN!” she managed to scream just as she dropped over the edge. The ceiling flew up and away from her as the stairs below rushed up to meet her. She felt a sickening crack on her right side and then there was darkness.
The pain woke her at first. A sharp burning feeling coursed through her right arm and her head throbbed. She tried to raise her hand to her head but moving her arm made it feel as though a thousand red hot pokers were stabbing her. She screamed in pain and her eyes snapped open. Using her left arm she pushed herself into an upright position and put her hand to her head. It felt cool and sticky. She looked at her fingers and realised her head was covered in blood. Her right arm was twisted the wrong way and she couldn’t feel or move her fingers. The red hot pokers returned when she tried to move it.
Just then, three short sharp bleeps told her that her phone died.
“Fuck… fuck, fuck, FUCK!”
Somehow managing to get up, Tasha carefully pulled herself up the stairs once more. There was no chanting, and the wind outside had died down. With each step her arm screamed at her to stop, but she had a brother to help. She finally made it to the room and with her good arm pushed the door open.
Gone. There were no candles, no chanters, no freaks cutting up her baby brother. She must have been knocked out longer than she thought. Tasha kicked the wall and tears finally began to fall, as they had threatened to do all night. But now wasn’t the time to cry. Was there ever a time to cry? She turned around and began to descend to her car. She’d drive until she found a house and would get inside and ring the guards, and maybe then an ambulance for herself. But only maybe.
She had to get her brother back.